Every once in a while there is just something on the news that stuns me. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen. This is one of those stories. Desmond Hatchett of Knoxville, Tennessee is...
Is it only a Quarter? – Beware of Bad Manners
Last night, as we usually do almost daily every week, we went out to dinner as a family. My son picked the place. Well actually he asked if we could go to the restaurant with the hamburger handles. That is Fuddruckers.
I love me some Fuddruckers. The husband, not so much but sometimes he is agreeable so we get to go. [We usually try to go some place that everyone likes.]
We had about 20 minutes to play around once we get there because we were waiting for my mother who was going to meet us. We spend our time at the little game area that they have (when I say little, we are talking 20 feet by 10 feet). We get about $10 in quarters and let the kids have some fun.
The kids are having a great time when they suddenly discover the bouncy ball machine. They start jumping around like monkeys wanting to get bouncy balls. They each take turns putting two quarters in and getting their bouncy balls.
Then the havoc ensues. They start bouncing these things all over the place and having a great time. There was some yelling (some by me and some by the kids) and suddenly one out of three balls is gone.
My son then puts another quarter in the machine. However, he realizes that he does not have another quarter. No one does. So my husband heads over to the change machine to get a little more money.
My son and I are standing there guarding his quarter in the machine. My husband is having a hard time with the change machine because he has one of those unacceptable crumpled bills. I head over to my husband to see if I have any bills that may make it through the machine.
All of sudden a little girl runs up to the machine with a few dollars in quarters in her hand. My son tells her that he has a quarter of his own in the machine and that is just waiting for his daddy to bring him another quarter. I am about three feet away at the change machine. I can hear the entire conversation.
The little girl says ok and goes to play on another machine. This machine is the kind with the claw that drops down to possibly grab a prize. Her game is over in less than 20 seconds.
She comes right back to the bouncy ball machine. I tell the little girl that we have to go up front to get change and that my husband will be right back. I then turn around to see what my other two children are doing in the game area.
The little girl goes around me right back over to the machine that my son is standing at and puts one quarter in to get a bouncy ball leaving my son standing in front of the machine. She still has a handful of quarters but does not give my son one even though she used his quarter in the machine.
This girl cannot be much older than my son. In fact, I would say that she is maybe eight at the most. So I try not to fault her for her bad manners. She basically stole from my son but maybe it was a mistake. The entire thing happened in less than one minute so maybe she was just unaware.
But here is where it gets good.
She goes to their table where they are still waiting for food. Her family is sitting at the closest table to the game area. Three feet away at the most. The little girl says to her mother, “I got this bouncy ball for only a quarter because that little boy had a quarter in the machine.”
So she knew? She understood? But she did it anyway?
Here is where it gets even better.
The mother says, “That is great honey. That was a deal!” I hear the entire conversation. I am stunned. I don't even know what to say.
This is not a poor family. Two parents. Four kids. All of them wearing name brand clothing. Parents wearing expensive name brand clothing. They can afford to eat there and clearly they can afford to pay full price for a bouncy ball.
Seriously? Congrats on stealing the quarter from my son? I really am speechless.
It is only a bouncy ball but what kind of lesson does that teach my son? What do I say to him? He is about to cry. He generously gave his bouncy ball to his two year old sister who lost hers. He figured that he could get another one but this was before realizing that he only one quarter left.
But I was happy to give my son another quarter for instantly jumping to his sister's rescue before she had a meltdown. He is a good kid. Kind. Caring. Always looking out for his sisters in between beating them to a pulp.
We end up at the table right next to these people. My son and I are talking about what happened. He tells his daddy that a girl stole his quarter and seemed happy about it. I quickly explain the whole thing to my husband. At the end, my son points right to the little girl and says, “That's her!”
Awkward! Well not to me. I just smiled and told him that it was not nice to point. I also see the wife whispering to the husband. Maybe telling him what happened? Not sure.
We get back to our dinner. A few minutes later I look back at the table that the family is sitting at and notice only the husband and one son sitting there. The husband makes eye contact with me and smiles. I smile back. Involuntary reflex. A few minutes later they are gone too.
I then take the opportunity to explain to my son that was not a very nice thing that little girl did. It was not thoughtful and that it is stealing to take someone elses money no matter small the amount.
An employee cleaning tables overheard me. She said, “That is ridiculous. I saw the whole thing from the start and I cannot believe that the parents let that child get away with that. Shows you money cannot buy you manners.” She also told me that I had a good kid. Of course I already knew that but it is nice for the occasional outside confirmation.
We head to the bathroom and I notice that this family has moved to another table on the other side of the restaurant. After they finished eating. They picked up all of their drinks and everyone moved. Why? Because of us? Because of their embarrassment?
What would you have done? It now seems like so much more than a quarter.